Archive for the ‘Culture of Life’ Category

Auditioners read ECHO scripts

Auditioners read ECHO radio scripts

Movie animators take great care to find just the right voices to “match” their painstakingly-drawn characters. Kansans for Life similarly took great care to cast just the right voice for our new radio spots in which an unborn child “talks” about life in the womb.

This summer, numerous delightful girls and boys, age 6-10, came to our Wichita office to audition to be the voice of “ECHO, an unborn child.” The kids had a good time, although reading and rereading a “script” with emphasis, clarity, and the right lilt in the voice was probably a bit harder than they anticipated.

Our new one-minute radio segments featuring “ECHO, the unborn child” began appearing yesterday across the state on many secular and Christian stations. We are getting many compliments on the approach and pray that thousands of listeners will think about the marvels of an unborn child in a fresh way. Here’s an excerpt:

“Hello, it’s me, “Echo”… your favorite little friend coming to you from inside my mother’s womb. She calls it a “womb,” but it’s more like my room, complete with my very own hot tub. Most of the time in here, I’m just kicking back… literally. I’m trying to outmaneuver the sonogram paparazzi. That’s why I call myself ECHO– Sonograms! Imagine… a bunch of giants trying to get a look at your private parts, just so they’ll know whether to buy pink baby clothes or blue ones…”

The concept of hearing an endearing “voice from the womb” in the middle of your regular radio broadcast is the brainchild of David Gittrich, Kansans for Life State Development Director.


David Gittrich

David became involved in the pro-life movement 36 years ago after his friend dragged him to see the film, “Assignment: Life.” At that time, sonograms were just beginning to be available, and the images were pretty grainy. In the film, the late Dr. Jack Willke describes the baby developing in the womb, shows beautiful pictures of the unborn child and then challenges the audience, “Who would want to kill a baby you can see?”

That line made a lasting impression on David. He has a deep commitment to reminding Kansans that the most precious natural resource that we need to protect is our unborn children. One of his aims in this project is to personalize the child in the womb to the casual radio listener, without any reference to abortion.

Although 4-D ultrasounds are now ubiquitous, the ECHO project allows the radio audience to “see” in a new way—by listening to the baby’s voice– the marvelous developments and abilities of the child in the womb.

This is one more way we can build a society in which abortion is unthinkable.

Read details about the ECHO project here.

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mother-teresa-babyAs the world watches Hillary Clinton clawing for the title of president, urging limitless abortion with full tax-funding, they will also see Mother Teresa being canonized Sunday. The comparison could not be more striking.

Hillary has spent her entire life chasing political power at the expense of the unborn; Mother Teresa gave her entire life in selfless service of the poor and vulnerable. Breitbart news reports:

“As Pope Francis canonizes Mother Teresa, we will also be reminded that the most vulnerable among us are the voiceless unborn children who can be legally eliminated at any moment, whom Mother Teresa fought valiantly to defend and whom Hillary is committed to forgetting.”

22 years ago, Mother Teresa spoke passionately against abortion in her address to 3,000 guests at the Feb. National Prayer Breakfast. Afterwards, the applause and a standing ovation lasted  nearly six minutes, with one conspicuous exception:  at the head table, a few feet away from Mother Teresa, President Bill and Hillary Clinton and Vice-President Al and Tipper Gore, sat in stony silence, neither clapping, nor standing.

Mother Teresa had not pressed for the politically correct call for more government involvement in fighting poverty. She spoke pointedly about the unborn child as truly the poorest of the poor, and deserving of our protection from abortion.

In contrast,

  • One year earlier, Hillary had urged her husband Bill on the very first day of his presidency to sign five executive orders authorizing federal funding for abortion, galvanizing the U.S. government’s sordid partnership with Planned Parenthood.
  • Seven months after the Prayer Breakfast, Hillary sent a virulent pro-abortion delegation to work against Mother Teresa at the Cairo Conference on Population and Development, attempting to coerce the world into accepting abortion as a basic human right.
  • This past January, America’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, endorsed Hillary for President with an unprecedented $20 million donation.

Mother Teresa’s entire 1994 speech  (transcript here) is inspiring, but here are the most pertinent abortion sentiments:

“I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?

By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And, by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion.

Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.

But what does God say to us? He says: “Even if a mother could forget her child, I will not forget you. I have carved you in the palm of my hand.” We are carved in the palm of His hand; that unborn child has been carved in the hand of God from conception and is called by God to love and to be loved, not only now in this life, but forever. God can never forget us.”

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"the Hand of Hope" photo by Michael Clancy, 1999

“the Hand of Hope”by Michael Clancy, 1999

Six states have now banned brutal and inhumane abortions that dismember fully formed unborn children.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law “the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act” last Friday, joining — in order– Kansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Alabama, whose citizens embraced the necessity of passing this model legislation provided by the National Right to Life Committee.

In coverage of this law, most outlets, particularly  the Associated Press, refuse to even use the term “dismemberment” which is defined in this legislation.  Also unsurprisingly, the media  never challenge abortion supporters to defend the appalling savagery of slicing a living unborn baby to pieces.

Yet, even with biased media coverage, the public understood the gruesomeness of sharp metal tools tearing apart the tiny limbs of well-developed children while in their mothers’ wombs.

A majority of Americans who increasingly describe themselves as pro-life know that abortion is not done on a blob of tissue. Many of them confirmed that understanding after seeing a famous photo of a little hand reaching out of his mother’s womb.

That milestone photograph is called  “The Hand of Hope” taken Aug. 19, 1999 by Michael Clancy. The photo took the world by storm when it first appeared in USA Today on Sept. 7, 1999. The tiny hand of Samuel Armas, at 21weeks gestation, is captured grasping the skilled hand of the doctor performing innovative surgery to correct spina bifida. All this occurs while Samuel was still in his mother’s womb.

“I could see the uterus shake violently and then this little fist came out of the surgical opening,” Clancy recalls. “It came out under its own power. When Dr. Bruner lifted the little hand, I fired my camera and the tighter Samuel squeezed, the harder Dr. Bruner shook his hand.”

Gov. Brownback

Gov. Brownback

Gov. Sam Brownback remarked about that photograph in his May 5, 2015 letter commemorating the signing of the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act in Kansas:

“What a visually impactful moment: the delicate, miniscule hand with each finger and nail, trustingly holding on to the doctor. There is little debate over whether the child in utero is alive; the debate is over whether or not the child is a life worthy of protection.

Clancy’s lens encapsulates so much meaning in that one shot: a vulnerable, functioning, unborn child, not yet ready to survive outside of his mother who nevertheless lies completely at the mercy of the physician’s medical talent—and ethics.

Clancy says he was “pro-choice” before the snapshot, but not afterwards.

He recognized in that one critical moment what was actually at stake in abortion—not a “choice” but a unique and unrepeatable human individual connected to the human community.

Truly, the unborn child developing in the safety of his mother’s womb is absolutely at the mercy of the laws regulating physicians. Preserving the dignity of that relationship between the mother, child and physician dictated that six states prohibit barbaric dismemberment method abortions.

All pro-lifers who have worked so hard to enact the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act —and those in other states yet to do so– would no doubt agree with this thought from Gov. Brownback’s letter:

“Protection is at the heart of this law. Protection of an actively developing baby with his or her unique DNA, and who can be seen thumb-sucking, hand-waving, and smiling in routine sonography. A defenseless child with so much potential.”

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Heart stethPro-lifers across the nation have been reading our series of articles on the “Faces & Facts of Simon’s Law,” and are urging Kansas to protect children and empower parents by enacting this vital measure.

The state legislature returns to work Wednesday following a short recess. The Kansas Senate has already passed SB 437, Simon’s Law, by a notable bipartisan 37-3 vote last month. The bill will prevent minors from being denied life-sustaining treatment without parental permission and will require, upon request, disclosure of hospital policies on “futile care.”

Recently, four medical associations have published their strong support for Simon’s Law, see here. The following are some excerpts from their endorsements:

  • ACPEDSThe American College of Pediatricians informs that, “Once inconceivable, the practice of hospital staff placing a do not resuscitate (DNR) order on a child’s chart without the informed consent of the child’s parents or legal guardian is on the rise… increasingly predicated upon the ill-defined and subjective concept of ‘quality of life’ with one or more disabilities considered intolerable.”
  • AAPSThe Association of American Physicians & Surgeons writes, “care judged by some to be ‘futile’ is often life-saving, even if it does not restore full function… [When] there is a time when medical intervention provides no benefit, it is unethical and should be unlawful for a medical facility to determine that point unilaterally.”
  • NAPNThe National Association of Prolife Nurses asserts that parents have “a right to full disclosure and participation in the healthcare decisions of their disabled or severely ill children.”
  • The Kansas City (Kansas/Missouri) Guild of the Catholic Medical Association believes Simon’s Law “recognizes the right practice of medicine… the sacredness of life and the primary role Cath guildparents have in caring for a child. [F]acilities or practitioners cannot and should not determine that a patient’s life is no longer deserving of medical care.”

These medical group endorsements acknowledge that DNRs are very often being issued due to negative judgments about the kind of life the child will live—not upon a medical assessment of impending death. In shorthand, such judgments about ‘futility’ are qualitative, not physiological.

The families that submitted testimony for Simon’s Law recounted that too many medical personnel clearly viewed their child as a victim of disabilities, without a rewarding life–a view that the family vigorously disputed.

Neonatologist McCaffrey

Dr. McCaffrey

Neonatologist Martin McCaffrey regularly treats severely ill infants and counsels many families about Trisomy 18 and other related chromosomal conditions. He advises:

“ A medical team using its subjective prediction of future quality of life as criteria to make life and death decisions,and  forcing that determination is a tyrannical enforcement of prejudice towards children with disabilities.

The case which prompted Simon’s Law legislation is a prime example of such bias.

It is my sincere hope that Simon’s Law will pass. The only physicians and hospitals that would be impacted by this legislation are those employing unilateral [orders not to resuscitate].”

Knowledgeable medical groups and individuals agree that Simon’s Law is a necessary corrective measure.

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Krissy Krotzer

Krissy Krotzer

Simon’s Law insures that life-sustaining treatment (resuscitation, nutrition, medicine) will not be denied to minors without parental consent. This bill has already passed the Kansas Senate 37-3 and work on its passage in the House will continue when legislators return April 27.

The testimony for Simon’s Law in Kansas documented a consistent medical bias toward children with chromosomal disorders. Researchers and parents described how these children were denied scheduled surgeries after their genetic conditions were verified. Furthermore, they were denied treatment to save their lives after DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders were secretly placed on their medical charts.

The prevailing medical viewpoint on children with trisomy conditions is almost uniformly negative, essentially recommending provision of comfort care only. Kansas legislators learned that families of these children often had to fight for their child’s life both before birth, when being urged to abort, and after delivery, when physicians refused requested interventions.

Dr. Martin McCaffrey is a pro-life neonatologist with over 20 years in this arena. He supports Simon’s Law with this perspective: It is shocking that the neonatal community in the United States has reached a point where a significant number of providers feel it is justified to place a unilateral Do Not Resuscitate [or attempt resuscitation] order on a child’s chart, based on a neurologic prognosis which parents are perfectly willing to accept, but the medical team does not.”

Consider the stresses imposed by the medical community on the family of Kristina (Krissy) Krotzer. Her mother, Terre, writes:

“Our daughter Kristina was diagnosed prenatally with Trisomy 18. At the time they confirmed the diagnosis via amniocentesis they let us know that although we were at 22 weeks it would still be acceptable to “interrupt” the pregnancy, i.e., terminate, because the fetus was still smaller than a typical “20 week fetus” but we would need to decide quickly. We declined.

Later in our pregnancy we began preparing for our daughter’s birth. In our discussion with the doctors we were very clear that we would do whatever it took to get our daughter into this world alive. We didn’t know how much time we would get but it was important to us to give her life if at all possible.

The doctor refused to consider c-section as she said it was a non-viable pregnancy and even refused to monitor my daughter during labor because, and I quote, “I don’t want you to know if she dies or not.” 

This doctor was fired.

A new doctor agreed to the c-section if necessary. We scheduled a day to induce (at 39 weeks) so that this doctor would be guaranteed to be there as he was the only one we trusted to give our daughter a chance.

We were very clear that our birth plan was to get her into this world alive and from there decide –based on her actual overall health and medical needs– what to do each step of the way. Never could anyone have interpreted our desires to include a Do Not Resuscitate order.

Labor began and our baby’s heart rate dropped with each contraction. It was decided a C-section was necessary. Our daughter was born soon after. She presented with Apgar scores of 5 and 8 and needed only a small amount of “blow by” oxygen. We spent time together and she was taken to the intermediate care NICU for more evaluation and monitoring. She did fine, and we went home 5 days later with our tiny 3lb. 8oz. little girl.

Krissy 16th bday

Krissy’s 16th birthday

Today Krissy is 16 years old and a sophomore in high school. While she’s had a handful of medical issues, Kristina has done well.

Four years ago I was looking through the medical records from Kristina’s birth and found that– unbeknownst to us– the hospital had placed a DNR on Kristina prior to her birth.

This DNR was not our choice or decision and if I hadn’t looked back at the  records, we never would have known. To this day, every time Kristina is hospitalized we get challenged over the fact that we have her listed as a full  code.

We were once told by a physician, ‘you’ve had 10 good years with her, isn’t that enough?’

Krissy has a happy, healthy, full quality of life. When that changes, our decisions might change. But either way it should always be our choice.”

Terre Krotzer expresses the sentiment of many families who testified in support of Simon’s Law. Just imagine how you’d react to doctors who think your child has lived long enough. Imagine having to constantly fear that medical personnel might refuse to sustain the life of your child.

That’s the fear and apprehension that Simon’s Law will allay.

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Simon napping with his father, Scott Crosier

Scott Crosier napped with baby Simon

Recent posts have revealed the facts surrounding secretly placed “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) orders without parental notice or consent that resulted in the deaths of Simon Crosier and Megan Barnes. (see here and here)

Testimonies from both families, as well as detailed testimonies from other families and supportive physicians and researchers, were submitted to the Kansas Senate Public Health and Welfare committee urging enactment of ‘Simon’s Law.’ (see here)

By an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 37-3 on March 22, the Kansas Senate passed Simon’s Law to

  1. insure no DNR order can be issued to a minor without consent of parents/guardians, and
  2. require that a hospital/medical facility, upon patient request, disclose any ‘futility policies’ in place.

The House can take action on the bill when the Kansas legislature reconvenes April 27.

There was no opposition presented against Simon’s Law in committee. While not one medical group or facility testified at the Senate hearing, a stealth campaign to kill this bill is now being waged by lobbyists for various hospitals.

Their position is that Simon’s Law is unneeded (or even harmful!) and that reasoning was encapsulated in an unsigned March 29 editorial by the Topeka Capital Journal (TCJ), a prominent Kansas newspaper.

Neither proponents of the bill, nor Kansans for Life, were contacted by TCJ to explain the need for Simon’s Law within the current climate in which certain newborns, and children of other ages, are labeled “unworthy” of life-sustaining care.

The TCJ editorial asserted that, currently, DNR “orders aren’t to be placed in a minor’s chart without full disclosure to the parent or guardian.” 

However– in fact– disclosure does NOT always occur, as the cases brought to the Senate Health committee illustrate. In these instances, later verified by researchers, children lost their lives and necessary medical services, because negative value judgments were made about the children with chromosomal abnormalities.

Furthermore, “disclosing” a DNR is just stating that a DNR is being imposed; it is not seeking permission.

The TCJ editorial tries to claim the high ground by asserting Simon’s Law could “inflict unnecessary suffering upon children.” And as the final kicker, the editorial scolds –in the identical manner pro-abortionists do– that legislators are “primarily untrained in the area of medicine” and “shouldn’t play God.”

Scott Crosier, the father of Simon Crosier, for whom the Simon’s Law legislation is named, rebutted the editorial in a letter published April 9. “Unfortunately, hospitals’ secretive futility policies DO give them the ability to place DNRs [on minors] without [parental] knowledge or consent despite the rhetoric presented.”

Simon’s dad painfully experienced what the TCJ editorial seems ignorant of: that denial of life-sustaining treatment is being applied based on value chromosome sloganjudgments, specifically by those “with medical training.”

Mr. Crosier wrote, “For clarification, a futility policy allows a hospital and its physicians to make any decision regarding the treatment of a patient they deem to be futile without any input from the patient or family. Bottom line is, hospitals are making business decisions when the lives of our children are at stake. Our physician’s favorite statements when Simon was in the NICU were, ‘I don’t know,’ ‘Not for Simon,’ and ‘Incompatible with life.’  Cold harsh comments to hear regularly when you are pleading with them to do everything they can to help your son.”

Mr. Crosier fundamentally disagrees that legislators need any medical training to recognize the need for Simon’s Law:

If the hospitals are not going to be completely open and transparent concerning their policies, then we clearly need our government to step in and protect our rights as parents.”

TCJ did not include this last relevant paragraph from the letter they published from Simon’s dad: “The physicians and hospitals have government protections through many federal and state laws but for some reason Simon’s Law would be a burden for them to get written consent from a parent for a DNR? This makes NO SENSE! If you want to protect your child’s human rights and your parental rights, supporting ‘Simon’s Law’ really is a no-brainer.”

Anyone with even limited experience with being hospitalized knows that the facilities and doctors do indeed insist on signed permission, often multiple times in just one stay. The hospital lobbyists really have no credible excuse for not getting written parental permission, which is presumably why they never came to a public podium to testify about Simon’s Law.

Crosier’s unpublished paragraph completely undercuts the entire TCJ editorial. Is that why it was omitted?

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Megan Barnes, 1985-2004

Megan Barnes, 1985-2004

Simon’s Law, Kansas Senate Bill 437, would require parent permission before a minor is coded as a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) and would also require hospitals and other medical facilities, upon request, to disclose any existent “futility” policies. (See more here.)

This is the latest in a series from Kansans for Life that looks at the real lives affected when Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders are unilaterally issued by physicians. In the following, Ann and Frank Barnes share the details of how this practice ended the life of their precious daughter, Megan.

“Both our beloved daughter, Megan, and Simon Crosier– for whom the Simon’s Law legislation is named– were born with the same rare syndrome but Megan’s diagnosis was not immediately detected.  She was full term but small, with a ventricular septal defect and a minor lip defect.   Such signs alerted doctors of possible chromosomal problems, so a blood sample was sent for genetic testing.  We were, however, able to bring her home at a week old.

Megan was over two months old when we heard the words “Trisomy 18” and the heartbreaking news that these babies fail to thrive and her life would be brief– up to a year at most.  When questioned as to what would cause her death, the response was a vague, “these babies don’t do well.” Hospice was suggested, but accepting Hospice care would be accepting the diagnosis which our hearts were not ready to do.

She was our daughter and loved, perhaps even more so, because of those predictions.

The fear of Megan dying weighed heavily on our hearts until we stopped waiting for her to die and began finding ways to help her. But in 1985 there was a lack of information about survivors living with this syndrome. We felt alone and longed to meet another child like Megan.

Her geneticist gave us a newsletter from the Support Organization for Trisomy 18, 13 and Related Disorders (SOFT) when she was about 6 months old.  What a life changer! SOFT became both a life-line of information and a second family, with children like our daughter.  SOFT also has a compassionate medical advisor who has helped families for over three decades.  Because of the tremendous sense of worth given to each child at the annual SOFT conferences, we attended many, and still do.

I cannot tell you the number of times we said how glad we were to have Megan.  She gave us purpose, and taught us about patience, perseverance, resilience, unconditional love, and more.  She had a sweet disposition and, like any child, enjoyed attention and praise.  Though she could not talk, she definitely let us know her preferences.  All-time favorites were the Disney video, Beauty and the Beast, a Texas Instrument toy– replaced more than once, and her 17th birthday party.  She enjoyed music and movement and the activity of physical therapy sessions.

Megan was content and knew she was loved, and it was obvious that what she valued most was being with people, especially those who loved her.

On Christmas Day, at age nineteen, Megan was hospitalized for virus-caused dehydration, in a pediatric intensive care unit at a major teaching hospital.

She died four days later.

We were devastated.

Only after her death did we request her hospitalization records and learned the horrible truth that our wishes for life support intervention had been overruled by a verbal order from the “attending” physician to his staff.   Megan had been issued a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order without our knowledge or consent. 

Had there been a requirement for a parent signature on a life support order in that hospital, this would not have happened.

It added so much more pain to our grief to learn that our daughter died because we trusted the wrong physician.  Instead of providing needed intervention, he misled us about what was happening, allowed her condition to decline, and then said there was nothing that could be done.

Our daughter’s end-of-life lesson is about the vulnerability of parents and their children when the child is hospitalized. Parent-physician trust requires transparency and respect.

We believe any physician (hospital, medical society or hospital association) opposed to the parental signature requirement on a life support order, as proposed in Simon’s Law, has something to hide; and in some cases wants to control the outcome due to personal views about a particular disability or illness.

Megan outlived the survival statistics we were given when she was an infant, and she is not the only one with Trisomy 18 or Trisomy 13 to have done this as a number of survivors are now young adults!  They have health issues, developmental challenges and a life-limiting disorder, but most importantly, they are living evidence that it is incorrect to claim these disorders are universally lethal.

Clearly, the risk of a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) code being imposed without parental knowledge or consent is increased for children like Megan and Simon. And this dire risk also applies for any child who suffers critical injury or illness.

We fully support Simon’s Law to help prevent this injustice from happening to another family.”

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